Main Dishes

Simple Swedish Meatballs

When we roll into camp on a Friday night, it’s all about getting our kitchen set up, getting our tents pitched, and getting our gear unloaded. Our Friday night dinners need to be quick and easy to get onto the picnic table with minimal clean up.

Meatballs and rice is an easy meal that we can get onto the picnic table in less than 30 minutes and we only dirty two pots. It’s a hot, hearty, and flavorful meal. This is also a super simple meal for young and/or inexperienced camp chefs. You can buy a bag of frozen meatballs or you can make your own at home before you go. For meatball ideas, please read my blog post: “Make Your Own Meatballs.”

So, this is our take on simply made Swedish meatballs. You can serve them over rice, like we do, or over noodles. To serve, just lay down a bed of rice or noodles, pile on some meatballs, and spoon on some sauce. Serve with a nice salad and you have a quick and easy meal guaranteed to fill your tummy.

Equipment
Pot for the rice and a pot or skillet for the meatballs.

Ingredients
26 ounce bag of frozen meatballs
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef consommé
2 cups rice, uncooked
4 cups water
½ teaspoon salt

Prep the Rice
In a 2-quart pot, on medium high heat, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the rice, turn the heat down to low, and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until rice is done.

Prep the Meatballs
In a large skillet, on medium heat, add the meatballs, cream of mushroom soup, and consommé. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until meatballs are heated through. In the time it takes for the rice to cook, the meatballs should be done.

Serves 6

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Make Your Own Meatballs

Meatballs are fun and always seem a little fancy. Whether they are classing up a simple meat sauce, serving as a tasty appetizer, or floating in a savory soup like the Miso Noodle Soup I posted last week, meatballs simultaneously add a bit of playfulness and elegance to a dish.

Making your own meatballs is easy and fun, and the flavor possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Here is a mix and match guide to making your own meatballs. And, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you don’t have to miss out on the fun. You, too, can enjoy a little meatball madness.

You could omit or substitute the egg and/or breadcrumbs. They help hold the meatballs together, but they are not required. It will depend on your combination of ingredients. For example, the meatballs for the Miso Noodle Soup are made with ground pork, honey, sriracha, salt, and pepper, and they hold together very well.

Ingredients for a Basic Meatball
1 pound protein of your choice, ground
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 egg
¼ cup breadcrumbs

Proteins
Choose a single protein or a combination like beef and lamb or beef and pork (1 pound total): beef, turkey, pork, chicken, lamb, or 2 (15-ounce) cans beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed.

Seasonings
Add at least 2 (1 tablespoon total): oregano, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, honey, sriracha, chili powder, taco seasoning, grated parmesan, or grated cheddar.

Vegetables and Herbs
Add at least 2 (3/4 cup total): grated onion, grated carrot, minced garlic, citrus zest, chopped cilantro, chopped parsley, chopped rosemary, or chopped thyme.

Prep
In a bowl, mash all the ingredients together. I like to glove up and use my hands, which are the two best tools in the kitchen. (For the beans, if you use a food processor to mash them, be careful not to over process or they will fall apart).

Divide the meatball mix into 16 blobs (technical term) and form/roll each blob into a round little ball.

Arrange meatballs on a baking sheet and bake in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, or they can be (gently) dropped directly into a simmering soup or sauce and cooked 5-10 minutes or until done.

Makes 16, nicely sized, meatballs.

Now it’s time to experiment and try different combinations. Have some fun and make some magic, I mean, meatballs!

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Categories: Main Dishes, Snacks, Under the Lid | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Miso Noodle Soup with Meatballs

Want to wow your campers? Serve this savory miso noodle soup with meatballs. This soup is perfect for a cool or cold evening when you are wanting a hot meal, but on the lighter side. It brings a mild, subtle heat and folks can add more or less heat by how they garnish with the red chiles. Both my son and daughter like this soup and they are on opposite ends of the heat scale.

While this soup isn’t difficult to make, it might not be suitable for young chefs. This soup is a bit more sophisticated. It’s a far cry from chili and macaroni and cheese. This is also not a good soup for a large group because you need at least a quart of volume per person. We make this for the 4 of us and I use a 6-quart Dutch oven. I might be able to make this in a 4-quart, but I like having the extra room for stirring and to prevent boiling over.

You could double this recipe in a 12-quart stock pot to serve 8 and even triple it in an 18-quart stock pot to serve 12, but serving might become challenging trying to evenly divide all the noodles between 8-12 bowls. We use tongs to grab the meatballs and noodles and, when you get down to the last few noodles, you’re kinda fishing for them.

Be careful when you’re ladling the broth into the bowls because this soup is hot (boiling) and, if you’re holding the bowl while you are ladling, the bowls heat up really fast and get really hot. Even the heavy ceramic bowls we use at home quickly get too hot to hold.

For photographing, I sliced the red chiles to make it look pretty, but we actually prefer to dice them so we get a little heat with every bite. I also removed the seeds, which is where a lot of the heat is.

We did not use the sambal oelek (ground chili paste) because it contains seafood oils and we have allergies in the household. Instead we used sriracha, which is a straight across 1:1 substitution. So, if you can’t find the sambal oelek or, like us, have allergies, sriracha is a safe alternative without sacrificing flavor.

We find our soba noodles in the refrigerated section. The package has 3 6-ounce pouches and we use all three pouches because we love noodles. We find the fresh mung bean sprouts in the produce section. The bean sprouts add a bit of crunch and freshness to the soup.

Our chop stick skills are not the greatest so we serve this soup with forks, for the meatballs and noodles, and large spoons, for slurping the delicious broth, but you could forego the spoons and just drink straight from the bowl. It’s good to the last drop!

So, if you’re wanting something different or cooking to impress, this makes a great lunch or dinner soup for a small group.  Serve this with an Asian salad and you have a perfect soup and salad combo!

Equipment
6-quart Dutch oven or stock pot, medium bowl, measuring cups and spoons, and tongs and ladle for serving.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup green onions, sliced diagonally, and divided in half
9 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
64 ounces chicken stock
18 ounces soba noodles
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste) or Sriracha
16 ounces lean ground pork
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons miso paste (fermented soy bean paste)
2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts
3-4 red Fresno chiles or red jalapeño chiles, sliced or diced

Prep
Slice the green onions and red chiles, and mince your garlic if you’re using whole fresh cloves. In a medium bowl, combine honey, sambal oelek (or sriracha), ground pork, salt, and pepper. I gloved up and dove in with my hands to mix it all really well. Shape pork mixture into 16 meatballs. Assemble all your ingredients. Now it’s time to put flame to your pot.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the sesame oil. Add ½ cup green onions, garlic, and ginger, and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock, increase your heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 8 minutes.

To the stock mixture, stir in miso. By hand, one at a time, carefully drop in the meatballs and cook 6 minutes or until done. Add noodles and cook 2-3 minutes more (depending on your noodles). Divide soup between 4 deep soup bowls (minimum 18-ounce bowls) and sprinkle with remaining green onion, mung bean sprouts, and red chiles.

Serves 4 perfectly. Each person gets 4 meatballs and 4-5 ounces of noodles, and lots of yummy broth.

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Dutch Oven Nachos

On our last scout campout, Scoutmaster Murray was cooking for the scoutmasters. For lunch on Saturday, he made two Dutch ovens of nachos with turkey chorizo, diced white onion, cilantro, diced tomatoes, and lots of cheese. They were a yummy lunch, filling but not too heavy, which was perfect going into a busy afternoon of teaching outdoor skills.

Nachos make a great meal or an appetizer. They are easy, fun, and completely customizable. You can build them any way you want to. They are great for an evening cracker barrel because they are finger food so there are no dishes to wash late at night.

If you line the Dutch oven with foil, when the nachos are done, you can carefully lift them out of the oven using the foil. Set the foil “bowl” directly on the picnic table and spread out the foil. Campers can just dive right in and start pulling off clumps of loaded tortillas.

The recipe below is for fully loaded nachos. While the list of ingredients is by no means comprehensive, it includes a lot of options. Use some or all of them. Use more or less of something. Treat this as just a guide for helping you decide what you want on your nachos. And I’ve included all the classics to serve with your nachos. Have fun!

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven, large skillet.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package taco seasoning, or your own mix
12 ounces tortilla chips
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 (4-ounce) can black olives, sliced
¼ cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro, fresh, chopped
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces salsa
8 ounces guacamole
1 (15-ounce) can refried beans, heated

Prep
Line a 12-Dutch oven with foil and start 25 coals.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Add ground meat and garlic. Cook until meat is browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the meat as it cooks. Stir in taco seasoning. Drain any excess fat.

Place about half of the tortilla chips in the Dutch oven, spreading evenly. Sprinkle on 1 cup of cheese and add the remaining tortilla chips. Top with 1 cup of cheese, ground meat mixture, black beans, corn, tomatoes, black olives, and remaining cheese.

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately, topped with onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Serve with refried beans, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.

Serves 8

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Categories: Dutch Oven, Main Dishes, Meals in 30 Minutes, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pizza Pasta One Pot

Our family loves pasta and we love pizza so this was a lot of fun to make. And, just like pizzeria pizza, this pasta dish could be customized to your personal taste. Make it like your favorite pizza. You could use gluten-free pasta or a whole wheat pasta. You could change up the meats, add some vegetables like bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, or make vegetarian pizza pasta.

This pasta dish really did taste just like a pizza and everyone loved it. Another great thing about this dish is that it is a one pot recipe. One-pots are great for camp because you’re only using one pot and one burner, making for less mess and less cleanup. And, this meal goes together fast. We were able to get dinner onto the picnic table in less than 30 minutes, which makes this recipe great for a roll-into-camp night or an evening meal after a busy day of outdoor activities.

Serve this with a salad and some bread sticks and you’ll feel like you’re sitting down to eat at your favorite pizza place.

Equipment
Large skillet with lid or 12-inch Dutch oven, cutting board, knife, measuring cups and spoons.

Ingredients
2 tablespoon olive oil
16 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed, mild or spicy
1 cup mini pepperoni or regular pepperoni quartered
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
16 ounces rotini pasta
12 ounces water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Red pepper flakes for serving
Parmesan, grated, for serving

Prep
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat. Stir in half of the pepperoni and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Stir in tomato sauce, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, pasta, and 12 ounces water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 12-14 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure pasta is absorbing the liquid.

Reduce heat; top with mozzarella and remaining pepperoni, and cover until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley. Serve with red pepper flakes and Parmesan just for fun.

Serves 10-12

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Sausage and Kale Soup

Last week, around dinner time, I received a text from the mom of one of our Boy Scouts, a scout who is close to Eagling I might add. She sent a picture of her youngest son Nathan standing at the stove, stirring a pot. She wrote, “Sausage and kale soup from scratch! The Cooking Merit Badge is the best thing that ever happened to me!” I couldn’t be more proud or thrilled.

This is one of those moments when you dust off your hands and walk away saying, “My work here is done!” Nathan has embraced what he’s learned from a merit badge and he is applying it to his everyday life. His cooking skills will continue to grow and he’ll use them his whole life. And, just at look at that smile. He’s so proud of himself and his smile could light an entire city!

So, after the rave reviews from his family, we had to make the soup ourselves (and so I could photograph it). This is an easy soup to make in camp. It has a little prep and could easily be gotten onto the picnic table in about 30 minutes, making it a great meal for a Friday night after rolling into camp and setting up.

If you are a kale fan, you should like this soup. It’s warm and filling, but not heavy. We served it with our favorite cornbread. You could also make a crusty artisan bread. Any bread would go nicely.

For the sausage, Nathan used turkey sausage. We used a hot Italian pork sausage. Choose your sausage according to your likes and go as mild or as spicy as you want. The recipe calls for wine, which you could omit and just add more chicken stock. I opted to include the wine and used a chardonnay. For the kale, strip the leaves off the stocks and discard the stocks. The leaves just need a rough chop.

Equipment
6-quart Dutch oven or stock pot, knife, cutting board.

Ingredients
20 ounces sausage, ground or links (remove casings)
1 medium onion, diced
8 cups kale, fresh, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
3 ¼ cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can white kidney or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper

Prep
Chop the vegetables, drain and rinse the beans, and get everything measured out and ready. Once you start cooking, this one moves pretty quickly. In your Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the sausage and onion until the sausage is no longer pink. Remove and set aside. Add the kale to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add wine and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage and onions, and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until kale is tender.

Serves 8

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Kung Pao Chicken in Camp

When we go camping, we love to challenge ourselves to make meals you wouldn’t normally eat while camping. We’ve made stir fry in camp before so we know it makes great grub, fast and easy. Our go-to favorite has always been Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry. This time, we decided to make Kung Pao Chicken, one of my hubby’s favorites when we go out for Chinese food. The challenge was trying to replicate the signature flavors of this stir fry.

This was so much fun to make. It has all the veggies we love in Kung Pao Chicken with a smooth, slightly spicy sauce and crunchy peanuts. Dice your veggies and chicken as large or as small as you like. You can make this in a large cast-iron skillet, a cast iron wok or in a Dutch oven over coals or propane stove. Like any stir fry, you really want to do all of your prep work ahead of time so that when you put flame to your vessel you are ready to lock and load.

When we were shopping, we had a hard time finding unsalted peanuts so we ended up getting lightly salted cocktail peanuts, but we omitted the salt and it came out great. If you are concerned about salt, you can opt for low-sodium soy sauce and you can look a little harder for the unsalted peanuts. When we were stir frying, we waited until almost the end before we added the zucchini, which kept it firm and just the way we like it. We served our Kung Pao Chicken with white, long-grain rice because my son and daughter love rice.

Ingredients
5-6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons water
3-4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons peanut oil
12 dried Asian chile peppers, snipped into small pieces
9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced small
1 ½ stalks celery, very finely sliced
2 large red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1 medium white onion
1-2 medium zucchini
3/4 cup unsalted peanuts
Salt to taste
3 green onions, sliced
Cooked lo mein or chow mein noodles, or white rice for serving

Prep
Dice all the vegetables and the chicken. For the sauce, combine the soy sauce, honey, ginger, cornstarch slurry, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and black pepper in a bowl. At this point, you might want to start your rice or noodles.

In a large skillet, wok or Dutch oven, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Drop in the chiles and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to release the heat. Add the chicken and fry until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet. Add the white onion, celery, and red bell pepper and cook for 1 minute, then return the chicken to the skillet. Add the zucchini. Pour in the sauce mixture and cook until the sauce has thickened, a couple of minutes. Add the peanuts and toss together.

Serve over noodles or rice and garnish with sliced green onions. If the sauce becomes too thick, you can loosen it with a little water.

Serves 9

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Fantastic French Dip Sandwiches

This roast was fall-apart tender and soaked with juice and spices. The French dip sandwiches we made were so flavorful. It was hard not to go back and make a second sandwich, but I knew, if I did, I’d be groaning all afternoon.

In March, we were teaching outdoor cooking to adult volunteers at our annual Girl Scouts of Western Washington Outdoor Learning Weekend at Camp Robbinswold. Right after breakfast, we heated up a 12-inch deep Dutch oven on the propane stove, added some olive oil, and seared off the beef chuck roast. Then, we added all the spices and liquids, put on the lid, and set it on the fire.

I used my 12-inch deep because I wasn’t sure how much volume I was really going to have between the roast and the liquid. Our fire was a little hot and the deep oven allowed for some bubbling up room.

We let it simmer all morning. At lunchtime, I pulled it out and sliced it, but it really wasn’t necessary. I could have just pulled it apart in the Dutch oven. I returned the meat to the Dutch oven and the juice, and it was time to assemble our sandwiches. Because the meat is so juicy, I recommend a sturdy roll. If your roll is too soft, it will soak up all the juice and turn to mush. I would also recommend toasting the rolls on a grill or griddle. We did not, and I wish we had; it would have kicked it up yet another notch.

We split our rolls, piled on the juicy beef and topped the sandwiches with 2 slices of Provolone cheese. You could also layer on some sautéed onions, bell peppers, and/or mushrooms. You can ladle juice out of the Dutch oven for dipping, too, but we found it wasn’t necessary at all.

At home, you could make this in a slow cooker. Start it in the morning and just let it go all day on low. If you need to size up this recipe, just add a half pound of beef per extra person and then size up the other ingredients accordingly. I also wouldn’t worry too much about being exact. If you end up with a little more juice, who cares?!

Equipment
12-inch deep Dutch oven or a slow cooker

Ingredients
1 3-pound beef chuck roast
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans (10.5 ounces each) beef consommé
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup Coca-Cola (or just add the whole can)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup onions, dried, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
1/4 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 tablespoon beef bouillon, granulated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 French rolls or hoagie buns
12 slices Provolone cheese

Prep
In camp, in a hot Dutch oven or, at home, in a hot cast iron skillet, add a little olive oil, and sear the beef on all sides. If you’re making this at home in a slow cooker, transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Add all the liquids and spices, put the lid on and cook low and slow. There really isn’t much more than that. Super simple to make. After hours of simmering, slice or pull apart and serve on sturdy French rolls or hoagie rolls with Provolone cheese, and/or grilled onions, peppers, and/or mushrooms. If desired, ladle au jus into bowls for dipping.

Serves 6

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Enchilada Pull-Aparts

enchilada_pull-aparts_img_2090_690px

The first time I made these, I accidentally used diced jalapenos instead of diced green chilies. They were just a wee bit spicy, but we still really liked them. In addition to being hot and tasty, these go together in a snap and take only 30 minutes to bake. You can easily have dinner on the picnic table in under an hour. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and a salad, and you have a great meal.

This is also a dish that you can easily customize. I did, without even intending to, when I swapped the diced green chilies for diced jalapenos. You could swap the red enchilada sauce for green or swap the ground beef for chicken. You could add black beans, diced tomatoes, or some corn. Whatever floats your boat. Have some fun and make it your own. I’ll bet it becomes a family favorite.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven or 9×13 baking dish.

Ingredients
1 package of refrigerated biscuit dough
10 ounces enchilada sauce (we like to use red)
1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning or use your own mix
4 ounce can diced green chilies or diced jalapenos
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated pepper jack or Monterey jack cheese

Prep

On a propane stove or over coals, in a Dutch oven, brown the ground beef. Drain the grease and stir in the taco seasoning and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir in the diced green chilies or jalapenos. Remove from heat and set aside. Start your coals.

Open the biscuits and slice each biscuit into 8 small pieces. Add the biscuits and enchilada sauce to the Dutch oven and lightly mix everything together like tossing a salad. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 30 minutes or until the biscuits are cooked through and the cheese is fully melted. You could also load this into a 9×13 baking pan and bake it in a box oven, using about 14 coals.

Top with cilantro, avocado or guacamole, sour cream, hot sauce, etc.

Serves about 8

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Chipotle Chili

chipotle_chili_img_2005_690px

Chilis are great because they are easy to make and hard to mess up. You can easily adjust the spice level to your liking or just add a dollop of sour cream and you’re good to go. Chili is solid camping food. Pair it with chips and/or a cornbread and you have a great meal.

The chipotle chili and adobo sauce in this chili brings a nice mellow heat, strong enough to taste and warm your belly, but not so hot that it lights your nose hairs on fire.

It has three kinds of beans, giving each bite a slightly different flavor. However, if you’re partial to a particular bean, you could use all the same beans and this chili would still taste great.

Start to finish, this takes about 90 minutes to get this chili on the table, which means plenty of time to make a cornbread to go with it.

chipotle_chili_img_2001_690px

Equipment
6 quart (12-inch) Dutch oven or pot

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 can (28 ounces) crushed or diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced
2 teaspoons adobo sauce from the jar of chipotles
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15.5 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Prep
Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano and salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and cook, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season to taste, with salt and pepper.

Serves 8 (1 1/4 cup servings)

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